Inter-racial Intermarriage: What’s Taboo and What’s Not

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There’s a fascinating back-and-forth over at The Atlantic between Jeffrey Goldberg and Ta-Nehisi about exoticism and intermarriage in the black community, and in the Jewish community. It’s a short enough exchange that you can easily read the whole thing, but here are a couple of interesting highlights:

JG: The more time I spent in Israel, the more I came to believe that dating “in” was the responsible thing to do, from a future-of-my-people perspective.  But weirdly, and maybe you could analyze this for me, Dr. Coates, I didn’t get pissed off at Jewish women who dated out, only Jewish men. In retrospect, I guess I felt sorry for the Jewish women who intermarried, because I sensed that they tried, and failed, to convince Jewish men that they weren’t, in fact, their mothers, that they were intelligent and sexy and all the rest.  Jewish men who go outside, I think – and this is not everyone, obviously – are looking beyond the tribe not because they really think they’re going to end up marrying their mothers if they find a Jewish woman, but because they’re scared of Jewish women, especially the intense sort my friends and I all seemed to marry.  (“Intense” is a compliment, by the way, because intense keeps things interesting.) They’re scared that these women will see right through them, among other things.african_singles.jpg

There are upsides, of course, to marrying out – all those new and exciting genes, for one thing, and the opportunity to bring someone new into the fold.  And you allude, of course, to the ultimate promise of real integration.  Anyway, it’s complicated, and I’m getting the sense you believe, as I do, that blacks and Jews have a lot more in common than lactose intolerance and hard-to-manage hair.

TC: Heh, you just made the textbook black argument against interracial dating.  I basically wrote a piece saying exactly this a few years back.  I argued that black men should not date out, but that black women should do whatever.  My sentiments were much like yours – there really is no doubt, that in most cases, black women are looking out after having at least given the neighborhood a shot.  The same couldn’t be said of the dudes, however.